Di Canio fears for players on killer pitch

26 July 2013 12:01

Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen is a major doubt for the start of the season after suffering injury on what Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio on Friday called a 'killer pitch' in Hong Kong.

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas also weighed in, saying he would prefer not to go ahead with Saturday's friendly at the Hong Kong Stadium, where his side play local team South China in the pre-season Barclays Asia Trophy. Sunderland and Manchester City are in the sell-out final later the same day.

The pitch at the 40,000-capacity stadium was rendered unplayable in places on Wednesday after being battered by heavy rain. More rain has pounded Hong Kong since and wet weather has again been forecast for Saturday.

Premier League champions Manchester United are due to play at the same venue on Monday.

"If I can be sincere I would prefer not to play but this is the reality that we have to face," said Villas-Boas on Friday.

"We are professional. Unfortunately conditions haven't helped us but it is our responsibility that if the authorities decide to go ahead we will play the game and we will continue our preparation."

Belgian international Vertonghen had to go off on a stretcher on Wednesday in the 3-1 defeat to Sunderland after hurting his ankle in the treacherous conditions.

With Spurs starting their season on August 18, at Crystal Palace, time is running out for the key defender to be fit.

"He had damage to his ligaments so is most likely to be out of training for two to three weeks so just about on the deadline for the first game of the season," Villas-Boas said.

"The conditions are extremely poor but there is nothing we can do about it. We've lost one player through injury, not only because of the conditions but because of the circumstances. It is just something that happened.

"But it's a fact that our player safety is much more important in this pre-season. Ideally I'd like to avoid injuries in situations like this."

The straight-talking Di Canio was also scathing about the dire state of the playing surface.

"It's obvious that I couldn't imagine this kind of weather," the famously feisty Italian said.

"But we have to handle the situation. This morning for example we changed a bit our training session. The players weren't happy because they were without the ball this morning. We couldn't play on the field.

"For tomorrow's game we hope the rain can stop and maybe we can have a dry pitch, otherwise it will be difficult.

"Of course I am concerned about the safety of the players.

"This is a killer pitch with this weather. It is dangerous."

The Spurs-Sunderland game was put back 30 minutes because of incessant rain and the halves shortened to only 40 minutes each but Premier League chiefs say the players were never in any danger.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini also spelt out his fears.

"Of course it is not easy to work on this kind of pitch because there is too much rain every day," he said Friday, just as more rain came teeming down.

"But the players are working very hard and we don't have any problems at the moment. We will see tomorrow what happens with the pitch.

"It is a difficult pitch and we know it is a difficult pitch, but the other day they played without any problem so we will see how it is."

Source: AFP